Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Story of My First Rejection

It's that time of year again. The time that I anxiously await contest results. The time I know I should be hearing from an editor about a partial I submitted earlier in the year. Yes, the mailbox beckons and repels simultaneously.
Last year, I was new to the game. I'd entered my first contest and submitted a partial manuscript the winter before. And I pulsated with excitement--not sure what to expect--but hoping against hope that all the news would be good.
I had yet to feel the sting of rejection. The contest? A way to get my work out there. None of it bothered me because I still lived in the elusive world where anything could happen.
Guess what? I received my first rejection on my wedding anniversary! And it wasn't a "good" rejection. It was a form rejection. A week later the contest results arrived and my chapter was deemed okay by two judges and a solid yuck by the third. Ouch.
Suddenly, my world felt askew. I no longer felt excited and upbeat. I doubted my ability. I doubted my self-worth as a writer. Fear paralyzed me.

I'm happy to say, I recovered. It took me an entire summer of delving into writing craft books, reading every online tip available, and having a massive neurotic conversation with myself on a daily basis, but I emerged stronger than ever.
And I discovered something deep down inside of me that I didn't know for sure until I had experienced failure. Writing is vital to me. Whether it takes me two more months or two more decades, I will continue to write books and submit them on a regular basis.
Why put myself through it? How can I not? It's what I love. It's my lifelong dream. I know I can learn to be a good writer, just like I learned to be a good cook when I could barely cook an egg years ago.

Join me on Friday for a look into the neurotic mind of Jill Kemerer on a doubting day.


Write Already! It's Wednesday!


  1. Good for you for not letting rejecton get you down!!

    It's all a learning experience. We all have our own share of "yucks", but the more we continue to write the more we grow as writers. :)

  2. Thanks for sharing! It gives me hope! I'm currently waiting for the Genesis results - eager to read what the judges have to say. Writing is such a weird thing - one minute I totally believe in myself, the other, I think everything is a load of poo!

  3. Amen to that! If it's in our blood, we have to do it, so the naysayers only spur us on more to improve.

  4. I'm with Katie--one minute I think I might stand a chance, the next I want to crawl under a rock. Thank you for sharing your experience with us!

  5. Thanks for sharing, Jill. This comes at a great time. By the end of this week or early next week, most of us will have gotten contest results. I'm sure we'll all feel the sting of rejection in one way or another. And even though the results will help us grow in the long run, it doesn't make it any easier to hear the negative aspects of our writing.

    I just got back three chapters from my editor. They were her hardest critiques yet. I'm still mulling over her comments yet this morning, trying to figure out how to handle the glaring issues she found. It's great stuff, but hard. It takes the wind out of my sail for a little while, but then I always get a fresh breeze to keep me sailing forward!

    Once I get contest results back, can I cry on your shoulder if I need to?! :)

  6. I love the point you made about writing being a vital part of you, but that to fully see that, you had to experience rejection. I feel the same way.

  7. "Writing is vital to me." Yes! You've found the fire, and may it always keep your cave warm. :)

    Nice blog here. Glad you came by mine so I could "Follow" the breadcrumbs here.

  8. I feel your pain *sigh*. Still, perspective is everything and we wouldn't be doing this craft if we didn't believe in abilities deep down. It's that inner faith/belief that keeps me going :)

  9. It's encouraging and inspiring that you took those rejections in stride and used them to motivate you to write better. You also realized your deep love for writing which is an amazing thing. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Thank you for this, Jill. My first few rejections didn't bother me at all because I had set myself up for the rejection. Some of the later ones have gotten to me, but I try to remember that tastes can be random. And, when the occasional short story acceptance arrives, it makes up for the rejections!

  11. Tell me they did not label yours as YUCK! Surely not! I haven't submitted anywhere and don't plan to until later this year, so I don't know that pain yet. But I will. I will try to be prepared, but I know it will hurt nonetheless. Part of the process, isn't it?

  12. I hope everyone who gets a rejection or so-so contest results understands they aren't alone. Sure, some writers shoot to publication on their first try, and good for them, but if you don't, it's okay. You aren't alone.

    Jennifer: That's the truth! I know my writing gets better and I'm motivated to learn new ways to improve it.

    Katie: I'm pretty sure I'll always feel that way too. One minute I love the book, the next I want to dig a ditch 10 feet deep and bury it. Let me know how the contest turns out! How exciting!

    Eileen: Yes, it's in our blood. And, to be truthful, the naysayers were right. I didn't know many of the things I do now. I'm very thankful for contest judges!

    Ralene: You can crawl under my rock with me! Feel the same way!

    Jody: I don't think you'll need to cry on my shoulder--I think you'll be on cloud nine! Please tell me how it goes!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  13. Danyelle: Yes, I'm thankful for last summer. I would have missed out on a few big things. I wouldn't have made a commitment to learning the writing craft. I wouldn't have had the same empathy I have for other writers in the same shoes. And I wouldn't have dug down to the heart of it and KNOWN I will write no matter what.

    Angie: Me too! That's so cool about Niecy! And that cave won't be cooling down anytime soon..

    Tess: Uh-oh, I sense a kindred spirit. If you want to talk about it, e-mail me The rejection/mediocre feeling times are rough. It helps to talk to other writers, don't you think? And I can't say my writing ability is there yet, but I'm okay with that because someday it will be.

    Cindy: Ha! Ha! I didn't take it in stride! I was a mess last summer! (Tune in on Friday...) But after a few rough months, God blessed me with perspective. I'm fortunate.

    Davin: Congrats on the short story sales! I write short stories too, but for my own personal pleasure. I think rejection will always be part of this biz. Our books won't always wow editors or even readers, but that's okay. It's just someone's opinion.

    Sherrinda: No! Ha, ha! A judge would not be that cruel. I summed up the score and comments to mean yuck. She was much kinder about it! All I can say is, if you hit one out of the park--terrific! If not--you're in good company. Never let anything stop you.

    Thanks everyone for stopping by!

  14. I haven't gotten my contest comments back yet...I'm kind of scared. I'm not a finalist (though I'm not surprised - I've learned a lot since I entered, and I now see some mistakes that I should have corrected).

    Even so, I'm afraid to read "don't quit your day job" (although that's cliche, so I'm sure they'd have a more creative way to say it).

    Sigh. I'll know in a few more weeks what they really think.

  15. Karin: No author can quit their day job until they've been published many times--no matter how talented! See? Hope! Ha! Ha! Seriously though, I know how you feel. We all want validation and when the feedback is less than an A+, it hurts. Don't worry about it. I feel the same after every book I write. I'm pretty sure 20 years from now I'll still be learning.
    Thanks for stopping by!


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